The irony appears strong with this one.
The chief equity and inclusion officer of a public college posted a photo of himself holding a sign reading, "F*** Trump, F*** McConnell, F*** Graham," at a protest of the president's visit to Battle Creek, Michigan, last month — and now Jorge Zeballos says he regrets placing Kellogg Community College in a negative light.
What's the background?
Zeballos took part in the Dec. 18 protest — and he later posted the photo in question to his Facebook page, which is no longer publicly accessible, WMMT-TV reported. But as some might say, the internet is forever:
Image source: Facebook, redacted
'I deeply regret'
According to WBCK-FM, Zeballos posted the following explanation on his Facebook page:
"Recently I posted a picture on my page of me holding a sign at a rally to protest Trump's visit to Battle Creek. While I stand by my first amendment right to express myself, I understand that my public and private actions have repercussions on the institution I work for, Kellogg Community College. Because of this, I deeply regret posting the picture on my Facebook page and the controversy it has generated.
"Anyone that has interacted with me, both professionally and personally, knows that I strive to have respectful dialogue on some of the most challenging issues with anyone that holds a different opinion than mine. This incident doesn't change who I am and what I stand for, creating a more equitable and inclusive society."
A5. We celebrate @Kellogg_CC for recently appointing Jorge Zeballos as their Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer! Jo… https://t.co/JOC62PRBTk— United Way BCKR (@United Way BCKR) 1568313423.0
WMMT said it emailed Zeballos an interview request to which he hadn't responded.
What do critics of Zeballos have to say?
Critics of the photo indicate Zeballos falls short of the equity and inclusion he's supposed to uphold — and there is concern about how he might treat conservative students and staff at the college.
A WBCK talk show host who goes by "Renk" penned an article criticizing Zeballos as "crude":
"Regardless of your views about President Trump, or for that matter any president or person, this certainly is not the language you should be using. I assume Jorge is an educated person and probably could have chosen better words to show how un-inclusive he really is behind the scene[s].
"Does he have First Amendment rights to say and do what he did? Yes!
"Does he have the right to a job as a Chief 'Equity and Inclusion Officer' at a college? No!
"Is this the type of behavior you would expect from someone working in 'higher education' and being paid by our tax dollars?
"Will Kellogg Community College stand for such behavior or take action by removing him from ever being around students let alone professors who teach students? We will see."
What do defenders of Zeballos have to say?
"He's totally justified," Gavin Powell — one of the organizers of last month's protest — told WMMT of Zeballos. "First Amendment rights. He was just standing up for what he believes in, just holding a sign."
Powell added to the station that Zeballos didn't make the sign seen in the photo: "One of our organizers made it. We had a bunch of extra signs on hand for people, and this is just what he grabbed."
Gavin PowellImage source: WMMT-TV video screenshot
What does the college have to say?
WMMT said Kellogg Community College released a statement emphasizing that Zeballos expressed personal opinions on his own time and not as a representative of the school.
"However, this matter is a teachable moment and healthy reminder for all KCC employees that our actions as individuals can have an impact on the institution," the statement said, the station reported. "Whether that impact affects an individual's employment status at KCC, positively or negatively, is a determination made via KCC's ongoing performance management process"
Zeballos continues to work in his usual capacity at the college, a school spokesperson told WMMT.